Panasonic KX-P2624. (computer printer) (Evaluation)
by Joyce Sides
Most of us want a laser or ink-jet printer because we enjoy the benefits of reduced noise and dramatically improved print quality. In a bid to compete with the laser and ink-jet printer market, Panasonic has unveiled the KX-P2624 quiet printer.
Aside from some confusion about which paper-installation method to use, it took very little to connect my PC and the KX-P2624. You have to choose where you feed your paper--either front, rear, top, or bottom--and this allows you to place this unassuming hardware nearly anywhere in your office or home. With two of the most popular emulation modes, Epson LQ-850 and IBM ProPrinter X24E, the KX-2624 is compatible with just about any software.
Designed with the consumer in mind, the Operating Instructions manual should answer most questions that arise. The EZ Set operator panel located on the front of the unit offers menu-selectable fonts, pitch, text enhancements, form length, lines per inch, margins, quiet mode, and emulation. You can also install four macros and set the LCD display in one of five user-selected languages. This panel eliminates the need for DIP switches.
To change the emulation mode from the standard Epson LQ-850 to IBM takes several keypresses. I set up a macro to switch to IBM mode at power-up because I like the more compact print style characteristic of the IBM mode. I needed only a couple of minutes to find the necessary information in the manual, and less than a minute to install the macro.
The KX-P2624 offers 300-cps draft mode and 100-cps LQ (Letter Quality) mode, and it features 40-cps SLQ (Super Letter Quality) mode. To the uncritical eye, SLQ almost rivals laser printer output. Graphics print at 360 x 360 dpi. The voluminous font options include three draft and seven LQ. Under the heading of SLQ, you'll find Courier, Prestige, Bold PS, Script, Sans Serif, Orator, and Roman.
Other features include three individual top-of-form settings, paper park, and an adjustable push-pull tractor feed. An optional 100-sheet cut sheet feeder is available for $239.95.
The 26K buffer expands to 58K with a 32K chip. You can use either the standard Centronics parallel interface or one of two optional RS-232C serial interfaces.
With the wide carriage width of 16 1/2 inches, you can print on just about any paper. You can also printe envelopes or single sheets with the friction feed feature. With SLQ I created wedding and baby shower invitations using Express Publisher. The near laser quality output saved money; I didn't need to pay a printing service to print these professional-looking invitations.
Most notable of all the KX-P2624's lovable features is the insignificant noise level of the motor and printhead. In superquiet mode, I didn't have to raise may voice to be heard above the printer. In fact, typing on the keyboard made more racket than the printer.
Based on a consolidated chip design, the KX-P2624 delivers increased speed. The pins fire consecutively, one at a time, to disperse the noise creasted by their impact. In addition to the chip technology, Panasonic engineers packed rubber around the printhead and cushioned other areas around the printer with sound-absorbing materials.
Available through authorized dealer, the KX-P2624 sells for $699.95 and comes with a two-year limited warranty for parts and labor. The competitive price, the print quality, and the reduced noise level make this printer a contender in the highly competitive dot-matrix market.